MINNEAPOLIS -- One of the sweetest things to experience in sports is the feeling of redemption.
After slipping on an exchange during the prelims of the 200-yard freestyle relay Friday, the Brainerd Warriors squeaked in to qualify for the second day.
But, in Saturday's consolation heat, the Warriors' 200 free relay team showed what it was made of as it churned out its fastest time of the season, finishing 11th in 1:41.75 at the Class 2A state swimming and diving meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Not only did the Warriors finish third in their heat, they also earned an All-American consideration with their silky fast time.
"(Friday) went kind of sour for us," Warriors coach Dan Anderson said. "We knew we had a 1:41 relay in us. It finally happened for us. It was our best time of the year.
"This sport is all about improving. You can't control what everybody else does so as long as you're improving and going faster you can hold your chin up."
The Warriors' 200 free relay of Christina Roberts, Jenny Wentworth, Amanda Bateman and Katie Diiro made the slightest change to help them to a season-best performance.
"We've been putting towels down on the starting blocks and that's been helping us," Roberts said. "We didn't do that the other day and we just made it into the second day. We were smarter (Saturday) because we all put towels down."
Roberts also said the teams' exchanges we solid Saturday.
"We were seeded last and we got third in our heat," said Roberts. "We did really well (Saturday). We're really happy about our finish. We all got really good times. We've been working on exchanges a lot. We try to push it but try not to push it too close. We want to be safe but we also want to push it because we're at state and we want to go as fast as we can."
Brainerd's Krystal Halverson (left) swam the backstroke in the 200 medley relay at the Class 2A state meet at the University of Minnesota. The relay placed 16th in the finals. (Dispatch Photo by Steve Kohls)
Also competing on the second day was the Warriors' 200 medley relay team of Krystal Halverson, Sarah Gervais, Krista Rauen and Diiro. The team finished 16th at 1:57.18.
"We would've liked to have done better and swim a faster time," Rauen said. "But we're here and to make the second day is amazing. I'm happy that we made it this far. It was our last swim as a team so we're pretty happy with it."
Anderson was happy with how his swimmers performed and said the way the girls finished the meet was great to see.
"There were highs and lows," Anderson said of this year's state meet. "That's the way sports are. You pick yourself up and go do it again. I'm glad we ended on a high note. That will carry us through until next year."
The Warriors, who brought 10 swimmers to state, capped off a season that saw them go undefeated in dual meets for the first time in 14 years and win their fourth straight Central Lakes Conference title.
"We had a harder season with all of our workouts," Rauen said. "I think that helped us out a lot because we didn't have a lot of recovery days. We were strong for every one of our meets. We went in to win every meet and that's what we did."
From a coach's standpoint, Anderson said this season ranks as one of the best he's been associated with.
"When you win all your meets, that's a great feeling," said Anderson. "To win the Central Lakes Conference as easily as we did was surprising to me. We had a great section meet. Then to get that many kids to state is just the mountaintop for us."
Class 2A finals results Saturday
200 medley relay -- 1-Burnsville 1:49.22, 16-Brainerd (Krystal Halverson, Sarah Gervais, Krista Rauen, Katie Diiro) 1:57.18.
200 freestyle relay -- 1-Edina 1:38.10, 11-Brainerd (Christina Roberts, Jenny Wentworth, Amanda Bateman, Diiro) 1:41.75.
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